When it comes to making online bookings, customers often have routine queries about availability, whether the park is pet-friendly, which sites have the best access to the Park’s breath-taking sea views, and more.
Park owners, Anna and Peter Crawford were aware that answering these questions as they came in would drive increased bookings, but Belt Road’s traditional customer support systems including phone, email and a series of templated emails sent by the front desk team, were only available during office hours.
“We assumed that our customers just weren’t the type to chat, but it turned out, it was just that the product we were using wasn’t right.”
The Park’s website received good traffic, but the off-the-shelf live chat solution that came with their website was hardly ever used, and only facilitated a single chat each month.
Anna and Peter were convinced there had to be a better way. They wanted to provide instant responses that were available 24/7, and make their customer support experience seamless and as easy to access as possible.
Exponential growth in chats
Within a week of removing the old chat tool and installing Yonder digital assistant, Belt Road received 23 chats, an average of 3.3 a day, which was a massive improvement on the one chat a month they had experienced previously.
One year on from deploying Yonder, Belt Road continues to get excellent results and regularly achieves 40-60 chats per month. The chatbot facilitates one booking every couple of days in the lead-up to the busy summer period, and a small handful of bookings are facilitated by the digital assistant each month over the less busy winter period.
“Yonder has exceeded our expectations in terms of increased chat, and is one of the tools we use to help drive direct bookings.
“We are converting some of those bookings where they might not have been able to find the answer on our website,” says Anna.
Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park rolled out the Yonder intelligent digital assistant on their website in 2018.
“Before we started this, I didn’t know what automated chat could provide, or how it worked. We can see now how adding automation to respond live to guests is as good as if we were responding ourselves.”
Belt Road initially deployed live chat – where a staff member responds to questions – but has since rolled out a series of automated responses. Now queries about which sites have the best views, whether pets are allowed, and many other frequent questions, are responded to using natural language, automated responses.
Questions about availability are also very common, and the chatbot directs chat users to Belt Road’s online booking system to check live availability, and from there, customers can complete their booking.
Around 60 percent of queries are answered end-to-end by the Yonder digital assistant, and require no staff involvement.
The chatbot is so effective that Anna reckons they could get rid of the “Contact Us” form on the website, which is hardly ever used now.
“Before we started this, I didn’t know what automated chat could provide, or how it worked. We can see now how adding automation to respond live to guests is as good as if we were responding ourselves,” says Anna.
Yonder provides the best of both worlds with live chat, automated responses, and a hybrid of both. The Belt Road team regularly use the feature that allows them to switch seamlessly between automated responses and live chat explains Anna.
“If an automated chat ends without a booking, one of us will jump on and ask if they’ve got any more questions. It’s quick and easy, and one more way to help move people toward making a booking.”
Questions about which units have the best views are very common, and are answered by automated responses, including a photograph, which generate a lot of interest.
Queries not able to be answered by the automated responses are seamlessly routed to a member of the Holiday Park team if someone is online, or users have the option of leaving their email for later follow-up.
The Yonder mobile app enables Anna to answer questions while she is on the go (because who has time to be in their office all day, right?).
The pop-up website message feature is one of Anna’s favourites, which she says is key to engaging website users.
“I think the pop-up messages ‘How can we help?’ or ‘What can we help with?’ that come up after 10 seconds trigger a lot more website chat. More eyes are drawn to it.”
Anna’s other favourite feature is the dashboard. At a glance, she can see key metrics including how many conversations there have been, how many hours of staff time have been saved and, importantly, how many times chat users have clicked through to the online booking system.
Getting Yonder up and running was easy and it didn’t take a lot of time, nor did it require a high level of technical understanding, says Anna.
“I like that the solution is developed in New Zealand, and that answers to our questions are only a phone call away.”
Getting the automated responses set up was as easy as filling in a form with answers to common questions, and the team from Yonder did the rest she says.
With the new self-service feature rolled out in late 2019, the Belt Road team can now instantly refine Yonder’s responses to reflect new service offerings or make other changes.
“The team Yonder are so easy to work with,” says Anna. “I like that the solution is developed in New Zealand, and that answers to our questions are only a phone call away.”
Anna has extended the chatbot beyond answering questions and taking bookings, and in the 2020 summer season is trialling use by existing guests. Stickers with “Got a question? Let’s chat” are placed around the Park and in guest compendiums. By scanning the QR code on the sticker, visitors are taken to the chatbot, and can ask for new towels, alert staff to an issue that needs resolving or just ask a question.
“We’re really excited about this development, and can’t wait to see how guests will respond,” says Anna.
At first Anna was sceptical about how useful a chatbot could be, but she was a quick convert.
“We already had a chat tool and I couldn’t really see what the difference using Yonder could bring. Since we were only getting one chat a month, I didn’t really want to invest in anything else.”
It turns out that the original chatbot solution used by Belt Road requested email details before the chat started, which is the kiss of death for conversations, and as soon as they rolled out Yonder, there was an immediate and positive impact on conversations.
“We assumed that our customers just weren’t the type to chat to us, but it turned out it was just that the product we were using wasn’t right,” says Anna.
Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park is a cliff-top holiday park with breath-taking seaviews. With modern cabins, motel units, powered sites, tent sites and even facilities for conferences, it’s a sought-after spot for visitors to Taranaki. Belt Road consistently receives rave reviews and in 2018 was awarded the Visitor Industry Excellence Award from the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce.